Source: Minister urges banks to assist cotton farmers | The Herald April 11, 2018
Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Financial institutions should come up with tailor-made financing models for cotton farmers to wean them from relying solely on Government, Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Webster Shamu has said.
He urged cotton marketing companies and contractors to consider paying additional bonuses to farmers since they were significantly benefiting from the crop.
Speaking at a recent Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Society cotton prize giving ceremony in Matoranjera, Makonde, Minister Shamu said cotton companies were getting more out of the “white gold” than farmers.
Cotton, he said, helped companies along the value chain to produce key products such as cattle feed, cooking oil and yarn after ginning.
“Is there no back pay for the farmers after getting more money from the value addition process?” said Minister Shamu.
Government is heavily investing in the sector to jump-start job-intensive downstream industries such as fabric and garment manufacturers, including the clothing industry.
The targeted schemes have naturally resulted in the growth of cotton farmers to 400 000 in the 2017 /2018 season from 155 000 a year earlier.
Farmers, Minister Shamu said, should be progressively weaned from reliance on Government through favourable facilities from banks.
“We should be moving to a stage where our farmers get loans at reasonable interest rates so that they do not always look up to Government or programmes such as Command Agriculture to do farming,” he said.
“They should have money that they control themselves.”
In an interview, Zimbabwe Cotton Growers and Marketers Association chairperson Mr Stewart Mubonderi said although the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) adjusted their payments, they still remained uncomfortably low.
“Cottco offered adjustments, but they were low because of the low-grade crop which fetched less on the international market,” Mr Mubonderi said.
“So, we are saying to our farmers that they should work hard to ensure that they produce the best quality crop which fetches more on the international market.”
Mr Mubonderi said farmers should be careful throughout the production stages to avoid compromising the quality of the crop, which has a direct bearing on prices.
Addressing the same gathering, ZAS chief executive Dr Anxious Masuku urged farmers to take advantage of agriculture shows to learn more about modern farming techniques and available markets.